Revamped fees group fills applicant void

JP Leider

Bucking recent trends, Student Services Fees Committee applications appeared in record numbers by the Oct. 17 deadline.

Seventy-four students applied for 15 committee spots and eight alternate positions.

The fees committee recommends to the University administration how $22 million in Student Services Fees will be awarded to student and administrative organizations.

After the last controversial fees process, where Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs, overturned six recommendations, an advisory committee convened over the summer and made several recommendations to improve the process.

One of the main recommendations was increasing student interest in applying for the committee.

To do this, University officials assigned stipends to the committee positions. These are: $500 to general committee members and alternates, $600 for subcommittee chairpersons and $750 for each committee chairperson.

Rinehart also encouraged colleges to identify and encourage students to apply for committee membership.

He said a larger number of applicants will allow fees selectors to better scrutinize and identify individuals who can perform in a viewpoint-neutral fashion.

Last year that wasn’t necessarily possible, said fees selector John Schrom.

Schrom, also a fees selector last year, said because selectors eliminated people who didn’t apply properly, there were very few applicants remaining for the committee and alternate positions.

“We thought that we had to fill all the alternate spots – so we filled those,” he said.

Some of the last-ranked alternates who should “never have been on the committee” made the committee mostly because of resignations, Schrom said.

“Some people ended up on the administrative committee and it led to a lot of problems,” he said. “Their viewpoint neutrality left something to be desired.”

Fees selectors are narrowing the 74 applicants to about 30, which they will interview this weekend. Out of those applicants, the selectors will pick the final committee members and alternates.

GAPSA President Karen Buhr said she was “thrilled” with the response to the fees applications process.

Of the 74 applicants, 13 graduate and professional students applied this year.

In the past two years, only one graduate student has been a committee member.

Buhr said she thinks newly added stipends probably helped draw more graduate and professional students.

“Although the stipends aren’t a salary, they’re enough to encourage people to do it, financially,” she said.

Since the drive for more applicants has been successful, the focus of the fees process can now move from the quantity of applicants to the quality of the process itself, Rinehart said.

But he said the fees process will still be controversial because of a limited amount of funding among many requesting organizations.

“So there still will be controversy because some will be selected to get funds and some will not – there’s no question about that,” Rinehart said.